Contemporary Art of Bhutan
Contemporary Art in Bhutan is a relatively new concept with great potential to grow and develop. We are inspired to bring you the best local artists whose artworks are very exciting, fresh and unique. All are rooted in centuries-old distinctive spiritual traditions of the Himalayan Kingdom.
THE TWINZ - „Two bodies with one soul.”
Widely regarded as ‘one’ of the most talented contemporary painters in their country, identical twin brothers Tashi Dendup and Ugyen Samdrup live and work at 2300m above sea level in Thimphu, the capital of the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan. Since 2014, going by the artist name TWINZ, they have been following their own distinctive professional path: they blend contemporary painting with ancient Buddhist and Shamanistic traditions and artistic expression. What makes them unique apart from their impressive art is that they work together on their paintings. They are ‘two bodies with one soul’. Always inseparable.
The TWINZ first were interested in discovering music, but then their fascination with European painters, particularly Rembrandt, made them study Fine Arts at Lovely Professional University in India. Their first solo exhibition in 2017 was themed ‘Warriors’ that was inspired by a chapter ‘The sacred path of the Warrior’ in the book entitled ‘The Essential’ of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, the late influential Tibetan Buddhist master.
A year later, their second solo exhibition ‘Invoking Entities’ in India was inspired by Shamanism and Vajrayana Buddhism and dedicated to His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, the King of Bhutan, who himself enjoys painting and supports art and artists in the country. Their big dream is to have their next solo exhibition held in Europe in 2021 and become internationally recognised ambassadors of contemporary Bhutanese art.
‘Normally, we don’t talk much, we don’t express it through. Painting is more of our voice, through that we can express what we have inside… We do have some favourite painters, especially in Renaissance, Baroque: Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Rembrandt, and Rubens.’ - say The TWINZ.
To date, several of their artworks - painted with oil and acrylic on canvas - have been bought by local art lovers, friends of Bhutan across the globe, visitors of their Thimphu studio, and prominent art lovers in Bhutan. No doubt: they are truly among the most promising and exciting artists emerging in Bhutan today.
Besides painting together every day, The TWINZ also illustrate children’s books, do jogging in the mountains, and help their mother’s professional gardening business.
WHAT PEOPLE SAY ABOUT THE TWINZ
‘Basically in Bhutan, even today, artists are being used as a good tool to enhance the spiritual part, enhance the religious part. The TWINZ are really trying to tackle that concept, non-traditionally. What I appreciate in these young guys is that their approaching and they’re very serious about their work. They represent an excellent blend of contemporary, realistic, and honest expression of their own unique sense, yet very Bhutanese.’
- Asha Kama Wangdi, painter & father of Bhutan’s Contemporary Art
’They have always been fascinated with faces ever since they were young, even toddlers. We used to have our relatives over for dinners and they used to take out sketchbook and just draw figures. They have always been into figurative art.
They are very spiritual also. They blended the curiosity in the faces along with the spiritual craving. I think people are very fascinated by the fact that the two of them paint together on one piece. It’s like that two of them are two bodies with one soul.
I think what they are doing is very different and unique from what the current Bhutanese artists are doing here.’
- Yachna Gurung, sister and manager of the TWINZ
‘Visiting the home art studio of the TWINZ for the first time, I got surprised and fascinated by not only the quality of their paintings, but equally by the quality of their hearts and minds. They are both talented, humble, spiritual, kind, and hard-working young people who have already changed the art scheme in Bhutan forever.
When I saw their artworks, I said to them: Let’s bring your art to people outside of Bhutan. It is beautiful, unique, and captivating.’
- Zoltan Valcsicsak, founder of www.inspiredbybhutan.com
WHAT THE TWINZ SAY ABOUT THEIR ART
‘The concept of our work is directly inspired by Vajrayana Buddhism, Shamanism and tangible and intangible culture of Bhutan. Tangible culture like paintings, sculptures and temples. Intangible culture like knowledge, wisdom and skills.
We try to convey these concepts through the use of traditional icons and symbols, combined with realistic or semi realistic human portraits. Humans symbolise the innate warrior spirit that we all possess. By recognising the basic goodness or the awakened nature of our ordinary mind, we become warriors to battle our psychological and physical obstacles in our mundane lives.
The style of our work is a fusion of figurative/portrait with spiritual symbols and colourful abstract background. Use of different colours also represents the psychedelic trance through meditation and visualisation. We are inspired by Bhutanese traditional art, but we paint in western contemporary style. We mostly use oil and acrylic on cotton canvas.
We are fascinated by the wisdom and skills that Buddhism uses and teaches to understand the nature of mind, understand the concept of non duality, understand relative truth and ultimate truth, etc. one way or the other we try to convey these messages symbolically even though confused beings like us can only understand it intellectually.
Artists we venerate are Leonardo da Vinci, Michaelangelo, Rembrandt, Gustave Klimt, Edgar Maxence, Jean Delville, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Bouguereau, Claude Monet, Katsushika Hokusai and Tsukioka Yoshitoshi. And not just by their technical skills but also by their idealist movement in art.
Before we adopted this concept and style of painting few years ago, we did realism, pop art, book illustrations and few landscape paintings for commercial and private commissions.’ - The Twinz
THEIR SOLO EXHIBITIONS
2017: ’Warriors’, VAST Gallery, Thimphu, Bhutan
2018: ’Invoking Entities’, Bikaner House, New Delhi, India
2021: exhibition planned to take place in Europe
Please visit our Online Gallery to see and purchase from selected paintings of The TWINZ. In case you are interested in exploring their other artworks, please do not hesitate to contact us.